Backlinks are arguably the most important SEO ranking factor.
Search engines use hundreds of different signals and factors to determine where a website should rank, and one of the biggest factors is the amount and quality of backlinks pointing to your pages.
In this guide, we are going to talk about backlinks, what they are, and how to get them.
What are Backlinks?
In Search Engine Optimization (SEO), a backlink refers to an external hyperlink from one website page or URL to another.
You can think of a backlink as a vote of confidence from another website. The more votes your pages have, the higher they often rank in search engines.
There are a number of different types of backlinks that we will get into later in this guide, but any hyperlink pointing to your website is counted as a backlink.
Checking Your Backlink Profile
There are hundreds of tools that will allow you to see how many backlinks are pointing to your website, what your domain authority is, and the quality of those backlinks.
Here are some of the best backlink checker software tools:
In Ahrefs, viewing your backlink profile is super easy. Simply enter your URL and it will show you all of the external URLs pointing to your website pages.
For a more detailed look at your backlinks, click on the backlinks link to view each backlink and what page its pointing to.
In Ahrefs, you can see the following details for each referring page:
- DR: Domain Rating
- UR: URL Rating
- Referring Domains: Total number of referring domains
- linked Domains: How many other domains are being linked to on this URL.
- Ext.: External Pages being linked to from this URL
- Traffic: Estimated about of traffic the URL gets
- KW: How many keywords this URL ranks for
Why are Backlinks Important?
Backlinks are arguably the #1 ranking factor in search engines. The number, quality, and relevance of backlinks have been the most important ranking factor since the world wide web began.
It’s one of the most accurate ways to judge a website’s ranking power and ability. Of course, hundreds of other factors go into the algorithm but over the 15 years I have been doing SEO, backlinks have been the most important ranking factor.
That is why it’s important to constantly be monitoring and building backlinks to your website to increase its ranking over time.
Measuring Backlink Power
When building backlinks to your website, its important to note the backlink power of the domain linking to you.
Link power is passed from domain to domain depending on the power of the linking domain. The more higher-powered backlinks pointing to your website, the higher your website rankings will be.
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But how do you know how powerful a backlink is?
There are a few different measurement stats you can use to measure the link power:
- PageRank: PageRank (PR) is an algorithm used by Google Search to rank web pages in their search engine results. PageRank was named after Larry Page, one of the founders of Google. PageRank is a way of measuring the importance of website pages. Google stated they no longer use PageRank as a ranking factor, but it’s been argued they they still do.
- Domain Authority: Moz’s Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). A Domain Authority score ranges from one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank.
- Domain Rating: Ahref’s Domain Rating (DR) is a proprietary Ahrefs’ metric that shows the strength of a target website’s total backlink profile (in terms of its size and quality). DR is measured on a logarithmic scale from 0 to 100, with the latter being the strongest.
Each one will give you a different score but they will give you a general idea of the backlink power of a link. These scores are often generated by looking at the number of backlinks and the power of those backlinks.
This will become important when trying to acquire links to your website. The higher the DA, DR, or PageRank the more difficult or expensive it will be to acquire that backlink.
What is Link Building?
Link building is the method of actively building external backlinks to your website in order to increase rankings and traffic from search engines.
Link building encompasses many different types of backlinks that we will explain in detail next.
Types of Backlinks
- Editorial Backlinks: Backlinks from editorial content like a blog post or article.
- Web 2.0 Backlinks: Backlinks from self-hosted web 2.0 sites like Joomla, WordPress, AboutUs.org
- Social Backlinks: Social links like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin.
The anchor tag of your backlinks is also very important.
Search engines often look at the anchor tag of a link to determine what keyword to rank that page for.
The anchor is the clickable text of a backlink that you see at the front end of a website.
For example, in the HTML link below, the anchor text is “Free SEO Audit”.
<a href="https://www.ninjareports.com/seo-checker/">Free SEO Audit</a>
There is a number of different types of anchors you can use in your backlinks:
- Branded: <a href=”https://www.ninjareports.com/”>Ninja Reports</a>
- Exact Match: <a href=”https://www.ninjareports.com/seo-analysis-tool/”>SEO Analysis Tool</a>
- Partial Match: <a href=”https://www.ninjareports.com/seo-analysis-tool/”>SEO Analysis & Audit Online</a>
- Naked URL: <a href=”https://www.ninjareports.com/”>https://www.ninjareports.com</a>
- Generic: <a href=”https://www.ninjareports.com/”>Learn More</a>
- Images: <a href=”https://www.ninjareports.com/”><img src=”https://www.ninjareports.com/images/image.png” alt=”image”/></a>
Another important factor that search engines look at is link velocity.
Link velocity is basically what it sounds like. Its the number of new backlinks pointing to your backlinks on a regular basis.
This is important because Google likes to show relevant content in their search engine. Content or websites that haven’t had any new backlinks in 10 years maybe a little irrelevant in the SERPs today.
That is why constantly building backlinks to your website is important for constant ranking growth.
How to Build Backlinks
There are numerous ways to build backlinks to your website as mentioned earlier, but here are some of the best ways to build backlinks in 2020 and beyond.
Guest posting has become a very popular backlink building technique to acquire high-quality editorial links.
Guest posting is where you simply write a good piece of content on another relevant website and link back to your website in the article (as well as other websites).
Finding good guest posting opportunities is pretty easy without any tools. All you need is to know some Gooogle search operators and you can find some great opportunities.
First, head to Google and type in the following queries replacing keyword with your niche or industry:
- guest post + keyword
- write for us + keyword
For example, if we search for “write for us + SEO” (without quotes) we get the following results:
In the SERPs, you will find a lot of great guest posting opportunities for your niche. Some guest posting opportunities will be free and some can cost anywhere between $50-$5,000 depending on the publication and its link power.
Be sure that the content you build adheres to the publisher’s guidelines and is quality content that can attract more backlinks.
Most guest posting opportunities will require you to adhere to the following guidelines:
- Original Content
- 1000+ Words
- Internal Links
- External Links
Now simply build great content and submit it to relevant blogs and websites to build your backlink profile, traffic, and business.
Copy Your Competitors
One of the best ways to build backlinks to your site is to copy your competitors.
Yes, you heard that right. Copying your competitor’s backlinks is a great way to rank your site up next to theirs or higher!
You can use almost any backlink checker tool to find what backlinks your competitors have.
If you use a tool like Ahrefs, you can easily look up what backlinks your competitors have and simply try to acquire the same backlink.
You can sort by DA or DR to see the highest DA domains your competitors have backlinks for. In this example, you can see our competitor has backlinks on some of the top social sites like Github and Reddit. We can simply create a profile in these sites, add our link, and we got new links that our competitors have.
It will be a little more difficult to replicate their guest posts or editorial links but you can try broken backlink building to steal your competitor’s links.
Broken Link Building
The broken link building strategy takes a little bit more manual work but it can pay off huge in the end.
Broken linking building is simply finding broken links in relevant sites and building a piece of content to replace it and then contact the site owner to replace it with your link.
Simply use a broken link checker tool or chrome add on, to find broken links in the content.